Sub-Saharan Africa is losing the race to vaccinate its population against COVID-19. As of November 15, only about 4 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa has been fully vaccinated, up from merely 1 percent three months ago. It took 27 and 56 days to achieve the same milestone in advanced economies and other emerging markets and developing economies, respectively. The World Health Organization’s target of vaccinating 10 percent of population by end-September was reached by only five sub-Saharan African countries. Only a handful of countries in the region are expected to reach a target set by the IMF, World Health Organization, World Trade Organization and World Bank to vaccinate 40 percent of the population in all countries by the end of 2021.
The lack of vaccines weighs on the region’s growth outlook, contributing to the dangerous divergence with advanced economies. Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to be the world’s slowest growing region in 2021, with a permanently lower path of real GDP that could have long-lasting consequences for social and political stability. Furthermore, continued delays to the vaccine rollout leave sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world exposed to new, more virulent strains of the virus. Thus, it is essential that the international community step up a concerted effort to ensure that the global supply of vaccines is distributed swiftly and fairly.